Yankees Hall of Famer Dave Winfield talks Juan Soto, Spencer Jones

Yankees Hall of Famer Dave Winfield with Cracker Jack at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown (photo credit: Cracker Jack)
Yankees Hall of Famer Dave Winfield with Cracker Jack at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown (photo credit: Cracker Jack) /

Yankees legend Dave Winfield spoke with Adam Weinrib of Yanks Go Yard on behalf of Cracker Jack, in conjunction with their partnership with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Most teams can't count one 6'6"+ slugging outfielder with surprising grace amongst their alumni, but the Yankees currently count two -- and are hoping to make it a third in the years to come.

Dave Winfield, who arrived in the Bronx in 1981 while free agency was still getting its sea legs, shares connective tissue with plenty of members of the Yankees' present (as he continues to be present, too, forging connections with current players through countless endeavors). Both he and Juan Soto were Padres immediately before joining the Yankees. He and Aaron Judge are a rare duo, succeeding in Major League Baseball despite being able to fill out a tight end's uniform rather seamlessly (unsurprisingly, both were multi-sport stars).

And now, as Judge ascends to the captaincy, the Yankees' next generation also has a top prospect of similar stature in Spencer Jones, who Winfield is prepared to watch (and potentially tutor).

"I've seen him and I've got to know him a little bit. I spoke to him a little first at the All-Star Game in Seattle, and then again this spring training," Winfield related. "'Cause he's a big old dude, man. 6'7", Vanderbilt ... he's an exceptionally talented young man. Again, it takes seasoning, it takes reps."

Yankees' Dave Winfield has advice for Spencer Jones, Juan Soto

As for the other, slightly more experienced outfielder many Yankee fans have their eye on entering his walk year? Winfield's spent some time with Soto, too, and his only advice for the slugger is to let the offers come to him. He's already proven enough.

"He doesn't have to worry about impressing people anymore," Winfield said. "He can hit you .300. He can drive in 100. He can score 100. He can walk 100. They're gonna court him. At the end of the year, if they win, he'll have a smile on his face for that, and if he just has a typical year, he's going to be smiling for that as well. Exceptional talent. Good guy."

Perhaps, someday, if the stars (and finances) align, Soto will join Winfield among the eternals in Cooperstown wearing pinstripes. Once a player gains exceedingly unlikely membership into that club, the connection never fades. Winfield has worked with the Hall of Fame numerous times in recent years, from delivering pioneer Bud Fowler's Hall of Fame induction speech in 2022 -- a necessity, with his family all gone -- to coordinating an exhibit in conjunction with Cracker Jack that's about to debut.

Through it all, Winfield has sustained both the pursuit of greatness and his seemingly effortless, casual grace. Soto possesses the same qualities, and hopefully, the two will continue to collaborate rather than commiserate on a season gone wrong.